Friday, January 30, 2015

Review of Ensnared by A.G. Howard


Title/Author: Ensnared (Splintered #3) by A.G. Howard
Publisher/Date published: Amulet Books, January 6th 2015
How I got this book: bought it
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She's determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles... and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world - a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that's gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?

***WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR FIRST 2 BOOKS IN THE SERIES***

It's probably no secret that I have a LOT of love for this series. I've discovered a new love for Wonderland and creepy crawlies (as long as they don't come near me) and suprised myself by falling for the 'bad' guy. And obviously I couldn't wait to start Ensnared, especially after the ending of Unhinged!

So over the course of this series, my heart has been broken a couple of times, and I felt torn, like Alyssa, between Morpheus and Jeb, but Morpheus just has been holding a special place in my heart, especially since Unhinged. And Ensnared only proved that I was right to prefer our favourite moth, because HELLO LOVELY! OMG, Ensnared just filled my heart with ALL the Morpheus feels and I just wanted things to work out for him and hug him and let him be wicked and himself and just ALL OF IT OK? I saw him be a better person at times because he loves Alyssa while at the same time staying his wonderful self. And I just love him so much.
The reason I'm leading with all of these boy-related feels is that I just can't keep them in and because I felt that the one issue I did have with this book is that I was just waiting for Alyssa to get over Jeb and be with Morpheus, because OMG, WHY NOT??? I mean, I felt like Jeb had given up on them and was holding her back and just. I was just over him. So Alyssa trying to win him back was just not what I wanted her to be doing. But I guess he does have his moments and all... I'm just not fully convinced by how this love triangle was handled.

I was really hoping we'd spend a lot of time in Wonderland, but AnyElsewhere is a pretty good second, cause it also has lots of weird and quirky creatures and a whole lot of magical things for me to love. I love how A.G. Howard always mixes in the creepy and the dark twisty things, it's awesome. And I love how Alyssa has learned to embrace that side of her, the Wonderland side of her. How she can be dark and vengeful and jsut amazingly powerful and a true queen. I loved seeing her accept and treasure these qualities.

Also, while I get how her dad is being protective and such, I still think he's also pretty annoying. I mean, UGH, I just didn't like him, he was also really trying to hold Alyssa back, even after he gets his memories back and it didn't feel just protective, but like one of those people who don't want their loved ones to rise above them. It never felt like he accepted her for who she is.

I loved how there were twists and turns and you never knew if you could fully trust anything you were seeing/reading and so, SO many of these twists revolved around Morpheus and I just cannot over how much love I have for him! He IS Wonderland and amazing! I totally loved how A.G. Howard handled the two sides of Alyssa and the effect of this on her heart and learning more about Red and just EVERYTHING.

To sum it up, I pretty much adore this whole series and REALLY want to go re-read it as a whole and it's also made me excited about reading Alice in Wonderland with my book club this month, which I was dreading a bit. It's dark and twisty and swoony and just a whole amount of amazing writing that I could get lost in for hours at a time! Also: MORPHEUS. Go read it if you haven't already!

My rating: 5 stars

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review of Searching For Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan


Title/Author: Searching For Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan
Publisher/Date published: Mariner Books, January 27th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: For a small-town girl with big-city dreams, there is no address more glamorous than New York’s Barbizon Hotel. Laura, a patrician beauty from Smith, arrives to work at Mademoiselle for the summer. Her hopelessly romantic roommate, Dolly, comes from a working-class upstate town to attend secretarial school. Vivian, a brash British bombshell with a disregard for the hotel’s rules, rounds out the trio of friends. Together, the girls embark on a journey of discovery that will take them from the penthouse apartments of Park Avenue to the Beat scene of Greenwich Village to Atlantic City’s Steel Pier — and into the arms of very different men who will alter their lives forever.

So this story is set in 1955, which is an important thing to remember and something that I didn't figure out till about 3/4 through the book. I'm not sure if that's my fault or if it was just the first time it was mentioned, but it's something to keep in mind while reading this book. And as I hadn't read anything set in New York in this time period before, it was very interesting!

Searching For Grace Kelly centers around a group of friends, at times they feel more like girls who casually know each other and sometimes share things, as they do live very separate lives while living in the same building. In the end I believe they were friends, but they just didn't always show it.
I liked Laura, I could understand wanting to break free from her mother's smothering parenting and the rules of society and just LIVE. A thing that bugged me was that even though she kept saying she wanted to be a writer, she never really did anything to try and actually BE one. I mean, throughout the novel she never once wrote a story, the only thing she wrote was in a diary and didn't even stick with that. But I liked that she was bookish and went to a lovely bookstore. I wish we had a bookstore like that one somewhere around here.

I also really liked Dolly, though I was confused by her love interest and in the end it makes sense, but OMG, at times I just wanted to shake Dolly because she was so down on herself and negative! She seemed like a lovely girl and she should have some faith in herself instead of constantly comparing herself to Laura and Vivian and thinking she came up short. I mean, I get it, we all do it, but it was hard to see her doing it.
Vivian never really grew on me, she was impulsive and made a LOT of bad choices and I'm not really sure about her family dynamic, but she worked with the other two girls.

There's a whole lot of drama going on in Searching For Grace Kelly, far more than I originally expected when picking it up. In the beginning I had some trouble getting into the story, but towards the end of the book I REALLY wanted to know what would happen and I'd actually forgotten about the foreshadowing at the very beginning of the book and so what happened at the end was a bit of a surprise for me. I think what gave this book a little extra was that I realised that my grandma was a young woman in this time period, starting a family and everything, and even though she wasn't an American, this made it a little more special to me.
But while it was interesting, I never really felt that connection to the story or the characters and I was very easily distracted while reading it. I did end up enjoying it and am glad I stuck with it.

My rating: 3,5 stars

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mini-Reviews (1): Tempting Mr Weatherstone, The Kiss Before Midnight, Arcana

So ever since June of 2014 I've been failing at writing reviews for the books I read. I know. And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf.

Title/Author: Tempting Mr Weatherstone (Wallflower Weddings #0.5) by Vivienne Lorret
Publisher/Date published: Avon, November 25th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Plot in one sentence: Penelope is in love with her neighbour Ethan, but he's set in his ways and she's looking for adventure.

So this was an ok read, it didn't have the sparks that I expect when I pick up one of Vivienne Lorret's books, but I liked how Penelope stood her ground and was determined to not just go along with everything. I wasn't really feeling Ethan all that much, he's just SO afraid to change anything that he almost lost out on love and it was just an immobilizing fear that I didn't really understand, which could also be partly because it's a novella and all the deeper workings might need more pages to explain? But they worked together in the end, so I'm good with this.

My rating: 3 stars


Title/Author: The Kiss Before Midnight by Sophie Pembroke
Publisher/Date published: Harper Impulse, November 13th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Plot in one sentence: Molly wants to repeat her kissing with her brother's best friend during the holidays, who hasn't called after they kissed the first time.

This was a pretty cute read, I like books set during the holidays and I really liked Molly's family! The thing that I was shaking my head at a bit was that everyone is an adult in this book and they kept making things unneccesarily hard for themselves. Also, I really didn't get why Jake kept doubting that Molly's family wanted him there, as they kept telling and showing him exactly that. But they were cute together and I always love holiday antics, but they lacked a teeny bit in the chemistry department and it didn't make me feel the feels.

My rating: 3 stars


Title/Author: Arcana by Jessica Leake
Publisher/Date published: Talos, November 11th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Plot in one sentence: A debutante with magical powers, hunted by a secret order after said powers.

I was expecting to love this book, go all out caps over it, because hello, historical fiction combined with paranormal and secret societies?? MY KIND OF BOOK. Only it never really happened and while it was ok, I never felt that spark between us to make me fall for this world. I mean, it was never exciting to me. Also, the main character Katherine had a few too-stupid-to-live moments and that always bothers me. It was a decent read though, but I'd just hoped for a bit more than that.

My rating: 3 stars

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review of A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd


Title/Author: A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3) by Megan Shepherd
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, January 27th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet — along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward — has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation — and her own intended role in it — forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

***WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR FIRST 2 BOOKS IN THE SERIES***

So I was a bit hesitant about starting A Cold Legacy, cause I didn't really enjoy Her Dark Curiosity all that much, but I'm happy to say that this was definitely a WHOLE lot better! I mean, seriously, while I didn't feel the urge to keep on reading with Her Dark Curiosity, A Cold Legacy definitely brought that 'don't-put-me-down' feeling that I love while reading!

So Her Dark Curiosity ended with the gang running away from London so as not to get caught because they'd murdered 3 influential men, and Edward had poisoned himself because he wanted to kill the Beast and took a whole load of cyanide, which has no antidote, so it should have killed him in seconds, right? RIGHT? But as there are a whole lot of medical miracles in this series, it doesn't and everyone arrives at Elizabeth's mansion in the middle of nowhere. And there they meet a whole new set of interesting characters and remember this is based on Frankenstein, so there's something brought back from the dead walking around and OMG IT IS SO CREEPY!! Seriously, I don't want to give away just who/what is the undead object, but I WAS FREAKING OUT BECAUSE HOLY WOW I CANNOT HANDLE THE CREEPINESS OF IT! There was this sense of dread and doom and just inevitable disaster and I LOVED it!

And seriously, I LOVE that Juliet is a scientist and with Elizabeth we have another no-nonsense female scientist and just YES! One thing that bugged me was that there were some inconsistencies with what I know about science, mainly that dead people don't bleed. Seriously, they just don't. Because if blood isn't being pumped around anymore, it stops flowing and when blood stops flowing, it clots. So if you've been dead for a while, you really just don't bleed anymore and it bugged me that they did in this book. Also, there's no point in giving a dead person an injection with medicine, cause again with the no blood flowing, it's not going anywhere and thus not doing anything. But that's just the medical professional in me talking and I felt that this was a mistake that could have easily been caught and edited out.

But aside from this detail, I was REALLY enjoying A Cold Legacy! I loved how there kept being twists and turns and things got even more complicated and Juliet really needed to look into her soul to decide what direction she was going to go with all of it and there was such character growth and she was just a lot easier to relate to than in Her Dark Curiosity. She was treading a fine line between scientist and mad scientist and it was an egde of your seat experience to watch.

So I obviously don't want to spoil anything about the end, but I'm happy with it. It gave me closure and it fit the series as a whole and I just couldn't put it down till it was finished, it was SO good!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Friday, January 23, 2015

Review of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger


Title/Author: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
Publisher/Date published: Little Brown/Poppy, January 1st 2010
How I got this book: bought it cause people *stares* kept book pushing it
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

So I'm way, WAY late to the party, but at least I joined in, right? Right. So now you can all stop staring me down until I read this, because I did it ok and you were ALL RIGHT so I'll totally let you do an I-told-you-so dance. Go ahead.

Ok, now stop.

Let me just say that I have absolutely no idea why I waited this long to read The DUFF. I mean, love-to-hate romances are MY THING, as are fake relationships and marriages of convenience and pirates and... Wait, I was talking about The DUFF. Let's get back to it.

So The DUFF brought ALL THE FEELINGS!! It was such an emotional rollercoaster and afterwards I was like WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE NOW??? So while that might be a little overdramatic (I know), I was really at a loss of what to do with the rest of my day. I mean, all these intense emotions had nowhere to go except for this review, so excuse me while I flail all over it.

At first I was like OMG Wesley is such a douche!! But then things and Wesley got better and I saw him putting up this douchebag front and being a totally swoonworthy boy and just FEELINGS! SO MANY FEELINGS! I mean, I experienced this hate-to-love thing right along with Bianca and that's what I want from a good romance-y book.

But The DUFF is SO much more than romance. It's Bianca, who is beautifully flawed and has a less than ideal family situation and I just wanted to hug her and tell her that she didn't have to be this strong all the time and that it was ok to trust in someone else. I could totally identify with her looking for ANY way to let off some steam and while it may not have been the best idea ever to go around jumping in bed with a boy who's rumored to have extracurricular activities like this with LOTS of girls, it wasn't the most self-destructive thing she could have done. And I get it. It's a very good way to distract yourself from the problems in your life.

I loved Bianca's friends, they were true friends and I just wished that Bianca had seen how much they loved her and genuinely wanted to know what was going on with her. And I could so relate to Bianca's feeling of being the DUFF, I mean, most people have probably felt like that at some point in their life, right? But really, I've felt like the ugly duckling in a group of friends and it's not a nice feeling. It makes you insecure and question things you'd never question otherwise and OMG it's just not ok. I loved that in the end, Bianca and her friends talked about it and just epic friendship moment, ok?

There was just so much to love about The DUFF, I mean, THE LETTER! OMG, I died. Seriously. I just had all the feeling and not just boy-induced feelings, but friendship feelings and I JUST LOVED IT OK?
So now the movie needs to get released here in Holland, cause MY BODY IS READY!
Also, excuse me while I go plot which Kody Keplinger book I'm going to buy and read next.


My rating: 5 stars

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review of Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd


Title/Author: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2) by Megan Shepherd
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, January 28th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island — and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy — though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer — Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.

***WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES***

So, I remember really liking The Madman's Daughter, it was creepy and unique and I loved how there was something off with all the characters. So I was expecting a similar experience with Her Dark Curiosity. I'm sad to say that I didn't really get that.

So Juliet is back in London and obviously both boys turn up at some point, because hello love triangle, you are back too. I felt that Juliet was a little too woe-is-me in Her Dark Curiosity and not really the strong girl I'd gotten to know in A Madman's Daughter. And she really wasn't appreciating the things she had in her life that were really good. I mean, the professor who took her in seemed wonderful and I know she's not like other girls and she doesn't really fit in with society, but just, I don't know, I was just unhappy with her attitude.

The creep-factor was definitely back, as Edward is back as well and his dual personality, the Beast and the boy, is WAY eerie. Also, the whole setting is gloomy, and it's probably also due to my need for fluff and fun reads lately, but it was kinda depressing. I had to push myself to read on and it's really not bad writing, but it just didn't get me excited like The Madman's Daughter did. It could also be that I wasn't a fan of Juliet's choices regarding her love life. I mean, I was going NO WTF ARE YOU DOING??? at one point, which is never a good thing.

But that I even cared enough to yell at her in my head, does mean that I cared. I did care. I do. These characters have wormed their way into my heart and the ending left me like WHOA. Towards the end, I started recognizing Juliet as the girl I'd met in The Madman's Daughter and that's when things picked up and got REALLY CREEPY and also HORRIBLE, but it was way more interesting.

I guess I'm just a little bit disappointed that I didn't like it more, but the ending saved it in a very disturbing way. It was sort of a weird point to end a book though. But I'll pick up A Cold Legacy soon, cause I do need closure.

My rating: 3 stars

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review of Twisted Fate by Norah Olson


Title/Author: Twisted Fate by Norah Olson
Publisher/Date published: Katherine Tegen, January 20th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: When Allyson meets Graham Copeland, the new boy next door, she instantly feels like he’s a kindred spirit — shy and awkward like her, someone who has trouble making friends. It’s impossible to resist having a crush on him.

As usual, her sister, Sydney, sees things differently. In Sydney's mind, Graham's odd personality and secretive past scream psychopath, not sweetheart. Her gut is telling her to stay away from him, and to protect a love-struck Allyson from her own naïveté. But despite her instincts, Sydney is surprised to realize that a part of her is drawn to Graham, too.

And the more Sydney gets to know him, the more she realizes just how right — and wrong — she is about everything.

I was kinda expecting to either have my mind blown or to really dislike this book, but to me, it was neither.

Sydney and Allyson both have a distinct voice, they were similar in some ways, but mostly, they were two very different characters and it was interesting to get to know them. Though I think I might have a slight preference for Sydney, cause she seemed to have a little more common sense and while I kinda like that Allyson wanted to believe the best about people, when it's slamming you in the face that they're not good people some kind of alarm should go off. And Allyson's alarm was malfunctioning or she was ignoring it or whatever but I just wanted to shake her and go like OMG JUST SEE WHAT'S IN FRONT OF YOU!! She had a bit of too stupid to live going on and I very much dislike that quality in a character.

I didn't really like Graham, there was something off about him from the start. I did appreciate that we got a lot of different POVs and this way we also got a glimpse into his head and that was interesting. And a bit like watching a train wreck happen. Or maybe a whole lot like that. There were POVs from pretty much everyone who makes an appearance in the novel and seeing things from different sides was enlightening and it made me clue into the big twist pretty early on. But that was ok, because it added an extra something to the rest of the interactions between the characters.

But aside from that it was an interesting concept, it wasn't all that exciting. Or creepy. I had thought it might be creepy. I was also kinda wondering HOW exactly that twist that I was talking about came to be and WHY, but I never really got any answers and now I'm just left like this and it feels unfinished. I mean, I was sticking around for the unraveling of the big twist and then it never came and I feel a bit cheated out of that.
Also, this book suffers from absent-parent syndrome. Seriously, where are Mr and Mrs Tate? It's mentioned in the book that they are away a lot, but they should be home SOMETIME right? How do they fit into all this?

I think I'd just expected a bit more. It wasn't all that bad, but it wasn't all that good either, so basically I just had a 'meh' feeling throughout most of the book and I kept hoping the end would make it awesome, only it didn't. If you want to read a good YA novel with psychological elements, I'd suggest reading We Were Liars or Pretty Girl-13 instead.

My rating: 2,5 stars